"Golden handshake" for Alan White after almost three years
Artist biography Alan White
Alan White (born 26 May 1972, in Eltham, South London) is an English drummer, longtime drummer of British rock group Oasis between 1995 and 2004. He should not be confused with his namesake who is the drummer for the Prog Rock band Yes.
Alan White before joining Oasis was highly regarded studio drummer. In 1987 he enlisted in the band Whirlpool of future Oasis member Gem Archer.
"He came down and just blew us all away," remembers Archer. "I thought he was mega but the others were worried what a 15-years-old kid on the road and on the lager would be like. I rang his dad and told him: 'Sorry. But don't worry he's fantastic. He'll go all the way.' And he did. It was the weirdest day when he welcomed me to Oasis. And he hasn't let me forget it." Apart from that, White also was connected with another future Oasis member - Andy Bell. He drummed on his wife Idha Bell solo album. Prior to joining Oasis, White drummed with London-based band Starclub.
White's brother, Steve White, is also a prolific drummer, and had played with Paul Weller's Style Council and various other famous musicians, including The Who. Alan had mentioned that Steve also made big impact in his development as a drummer. His other influences include Ringo Starr (The Beatles), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Mick Avory (The Kinks) and John Bonham (Led Zeppelin).
Alan White replaced original drummer Tony McCarroll in May 1995 and was immediately thrown in at the deep end, first joining the band the very next day to perform a playback of Some Might Say in front of a national TV audience on BBC1's long running music programme Top of The Pops, then taking part in recording sessions for (What's the Story) Morning Glory?. One of White's first live shows with Oasis was in front of a massive crowd at the Glastonbury Festival in June 1995.
Until the arrival of Andy Bell as bass player in 1999, White was the token southerner in the otherwise Mancunian Oasis. Initially known, inventively, as 'Whitey', he was later re-christened 'Dave' by the band because he once served himself a drink from an unattended bar, therefore resembling the character Dave from "The Winchester" in the '70s TV series Minder. White commented on the "North/South divide" saying it was not that bad, but "for ages I was the 'Cockney cunt' and they were the 'Manc fuckers'".
In his book "What's the Story?" Ian Robertson stated that White was also known by the phrase "Alan White - He's alright". White was entrusted with the role of Liam Gallagher's 'official' drinking partner and was also said to be his best friend in the band. Together the pair were known as 'Bert and Ernie', named after the Sesame Street-characters.
In December 2002 Liam and White were involved in a high-profiled brawl in a bar hotel in Germany when they fell afoul of some locals. As a consequence White's "drinking partner" lost some of his front teeth and was arrested by the authorities. Alan on the other hand was very drunk and had a brain scan in hospital afterwards after receiving minor head injuries.
Noel has stated that Alan had a far greater significance to the band than a mere session and touring drummer, claiming that he helped immensly in the recording process. White's style is clearly influenced by funk drummers like Chad Smith and he had brought these influences in the drumming section of the album, apart from writing the drum notes and providing it for the band. Noel also said that when he wrote a song he would play it to White who would often adapt the rhythm of the song or advise Gallagher on possible changes in the tempo. However, his style has been critisised for contributing to some of the bands more overblown moments, which earned Oasis' 1997 Be Here Now and 2000 Standing on the Shoulder of Giants a critical panning.
White was the longest serving member in Oasis beside the Gallaghers and passed through thin and thick with the band. He had supported the act from their years of glory during the Britpop hysteria and to their fall-out at the end of the decade. Although that longtime performers Paul McGuigan and Paul Arthurs quit the band in these times of turmoil, he decided to stay with the brothers. The Gallaghers on their part have referred to Whitey as the "best fucking drummer" they've ever played with.
Alan had performed on 4 of Oasis' 6 studio albums: (What's the Story) Morning Glory? (1995), Be Here Now (1997), Standing on the Shoulder of Giants (2000) and Heathen Chemistry (2002). He also played on the majority of band's b-sides, some of which were released on the b-side record The Masterplan (1998).
White married model Liz Atkins on 13 August, 1997 at Studley Priory Hotel, Oxfordshire. They met on the set of the "Don't Look Back in Anger" promo video. They divorced in 2000, when coincidently the Gallaghers divorced their respective wives Patsy Kensit and Meg Mathews.
In early 2004, White surprisingly left Oasis during the early recording sessions for the band's sixth album. According to Oasis' spokesperson there were some new tracks and demos with White's performance as well, which were made at the end 2003 and early 2004 at the first sessions for their upcoming album, before his surprising departure. Due to his departure, the band scrapped the first midway sessions and later suffered some prolonged and difficult recording for Don't Believe the Truth (2005).
Amidst all the rumours surrounding his departure (fingering his past tendonitis problem or the false accusations of the leaking of the Heathen Chemistry) in early 2005, Steve White on his website explained to a fan-visitor, that Whitey was just tired, didn't want to be in Oasis anymore and thus left to patch up his relationship with his current girlfriend – "The spirit of being in a band was kicked out of him." However, Steve reassured the Oasis fan that his brother was in a good mood and condition and hinted that Alan possibly can continue his drumming – "Perhaps some time soon, but he is very happy and very healthy and keeping very well".
White was replaced with Zak Starkey – the son of The Beatles' legend Ringo Starr. Zak brings a significantly more straighter rock 'n roll-drumming to the band's sound in Don't Believe the Truth as he is known for his tenure as drummer behind the legendary Mod rockers The Who.
In a recent interview, Noel also alluded to White's personal problems: "He's a fucking great guy and he's one of the best drummers I've ever met in my life, but his personal life is fucking chaos. In the end he fucked off and we haven't seen him since," a possible reference to White's alleged romantic woes.
For his part, Alan White has kept a low profile since his departure, excluding a statement to a drumming site, where he said that the tendonitis rumours are "utter shit" and that the reasons are others.
However, as the new b-side collection is approaching in 2006, it's unknown what will happen, as Whitey played on the majority of the b-sides on it, apart from those recorded with Zak Starkey. The current relationship (if there is one) between Alan and his former bandmates is unknown and it's also unknown whether another bitter lawsuit wrangling is approaching like the one between McCaroll and the band after the release of the Masterplan, who subsequently sued the band over rights of Definitely Maybe b-sides.